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Revamping FinOps’ Image: 10 Ways to Spark Interest and Innovation in Your Team

7 minute read

FinOps can transform organizations by boosting cloud efficiency, cutting costs, and reducing carbon footprints. Yet it’s often seen as a dull task with unclear expectations and ownership, leaving it to sink to the bottom of the priority list. Even with a clear business case, the sentiment is often that it’s ‘never the right time’ to focus on FinOps.

This perception stems from a widespread uncertainty about roles, deadlines, and effective implementation. To change this, we need to address these issues head-on. Leadership, engineers, and technical teams are crucial to FinOps success, and their active engagement is essential to turning FinOps strategies into real, actionable steps.

When done right, FinOps becomes more than just a cost-saving measure – it becomes the catalyst for a new way of operating in the cloud, sparking efficiency, sustainability, and innovation. So, let’s look at how you can engage your teams to make it happen.

 

10 Ways to Spark Interest and Innovation in FinOps

1. Define Clear Objectives

Kickstarting the FinOps journey requires a clear understanding of your aims. Start by digging into the broader organizational goals related to cloud efficiency, cost savings, and carbon reduction. For example, your organization might have a commitment to become Net Zero by 2030. Once these objectives are clear, ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page – this might mean breaking down the jargon and tailoring the message to suit different levels of understanding. After all, an engineer’s perspective on FinOps will likely differ from that of a CFO; while an engineer is focused on technical aspects such as cloud efficiency, automation, and performance optimization, a CFO is concerned with cost control, ROI, and financial risk management. Everyone in your organization needs to grasp why FinOps matters – to them and to the business – and how it can simplify workflows and drive profitability.

 

2. Highlight the Importance

The next step towards fostering positivity around FinOps is to educate your team on its role in saving costs, cutting cloud wastage, reducing carbon emissions, and driving innovation. By emphasizing the team’s direct impact on the bottom line and the organization’s competitiveness, you can instill a sense of purpose and urgency – pushing FinOps to the top of everyone’s priority list. But establishing a FinOps culture goes beyond simply assembling a team with the right skills or running a few internal workshops. Invest in quality external training providers and make sure key messages are reiterated in internal meetings and communications to ensure everyone understands the importance of cost optimization and their role in achieving it. Make sure essential FinOps resources (including videos and reference documents) are available on your company intranet or internal drives for easy retrieval.

 

3. Break Down Complexity

Effective communication is at the heart of any successful team, and FinOps is no exception. Develop a FinOps glossary of terms to promote clarity, efficiency, and seamless onboarding for new team members. By explaining key jargon like cost allocation, chargeback and showback, you can ensure everyone speaks the same language. It also helps to explain FinOps concepts in ways that everyone can understand – like comparing it to turning off lights when you leave a room to save electricity.

Break the concept down into manageable steps to make the process much more approachable and achievable. Start by presenting the current state, highlighting pain points, threats, and missed opportunities. Then, lay out the solution with a rough timeline to achieve the future state, explaining how you’ll get there with actionable steps for the specific teams and personnel involved. Clarify your call to action here – whether it’s piloting FinOps in a smaller area of the business to showcase its benefits or pushing for full-scale adoption, be clear about what you need.

 

4. Engage Engineers

Engineers, in their diverse roles – from cloud architects to software developers – play a key part in building, running, and supporting IT services. They are therefore pivotal to the success of FinOps. With 82% of engineers finding value in the self-service capabilities of FinOps, it’s no surprise that 76% of companies are training engineers in FinOps principles.[2] It’s also important to show them the direct impact of their work, especially on carbon reduction – an aspect that many engineers are more motivated by than financial savings.[3] By adopting FinOps practices, engineers can utilize cost and resource optimization metrics to design and manage cloud resources efficiently over the medium and long term.

Be clear from the outset that while FinOps can bring longer delivery cycles and variable budgets, the ultimate benefit is worth it. For engineers, their streamlined post-FinOps workloads will free up more time for innovative projects that challenge their skills and push the boundaries of technology, making the time and effort pay off in the long run.

 

5. Organize Hackathons

By tackling real-world challenges to encourage creative problem-solving, hackathons are the perfect playground for exploring new cost-saving strategies and driving efficiency. A hackathon is an event where people come together to work on software or hardware projects in a short amount of time, usually 24 to 48 hours. Participants, often in teams, collaborate to create new apps, websites, or other tech solutions. It’s a mix of brainstorming, coding, and presenting ideas, with the goal of building something inventive and functional by the end of the event.

Often, engineering teams find themselves swamped with day-to-day tasks, leaving tech debt – including FinOps – as an ongoing issue. That’s where hackathons come in. They provide huge potential for collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas – particularly within global organizations where regional teams can dial into one massive hackathon meetup. Some hackathons can involve hundreds, if not thousands of engineers collaborating on the same challenge. A team committed to reducing costs during a hackathon can achieve remarkable long-lasting results in a short timeframe – especially if there’s a prize to be won.

Beyond the immediate savings benefits, a FinOps hackathon can help engineering teams to realize cost reduction possibilities, empowering them to prioritize this work in the future. It can also enhance their knowledge of internal tools that provide full cost transparency. Everyone stands to gain from this approach, making it a win-win activity worth trying.

 

6. Provide Incentives

Starting an organization’s FinOps journey is more than just pitching the idea – it’s about keeping the momentum going and getting everyone on board. One way to do this is by encouraging a mindset of always looking for ways to improve. Give team members incentives to regularly check and tweak how they’re using cloud resources and managing costs. When everyone can see what they’re spending on cloud resources, it makes everyone more accountable for an organization’s cost-efficiency. This not only saves money but also makes cloud operations run more smoothly.

Other ways of driving engagement and motivation include perks such as shoutouts, rewards, or opportunities for career growth. Allocate someone to oversee FinOps efforts and ensure everyone – from top-level executives to junior employees – is on board and invested in its success.

 

7. Encourage Collaboration

Breaking down departmental barriers, promoting teamwork, and communicating openly are key drivers of FinOps success. When IT, finance, and operations teams come together, an organization is better equipped to spot opportunities to save money and drive success. It’s about creating an atmosphere where everyone is tuned into saving costs, working together, and always striving to do better. Collaboration involves regular cross-departmental meetings and training, collaborative platforms, shared KPIs, collaborative budgeting, and project management.

The real magic of FinOps happens when the whole team is committed and clear about their roles and accountability – and this starts at the top: nearly half of organizations (49%) see executive buy-in as key to FinOps success. Overcoming challenges like vague expectations and unclear ownership can transform FinOps into a powerhouse that maximizes business value and optimizes cloud investments.

Ultimately, empowering employees – and especially engineers – is key to cultivating a culture of cost consciousness and optimization.

 

8. Measure and Celebrate Success

Once goals and metrics have been set, measuring and celebrating the success of FinOps helps to keep everyone motivated and on track. Keep an eye on engineering metrics like revenue by infrastructure costs, cost per deployed service, and showback or chargeback of IT costs to gauge the effectiveness of your FinOps efforts.

For example, an organization might use carbon reduction as a key KPI to measure the success of their FinOps initiative. By focusing on rightsizing their cloud instances, scheduling non-critical workloads to run during off-peak hours, and shutting down unused resources, they can save on cloud expenses and significantly reduce their carbon footprint. When you reach milestones or make significant improvements, take the time to recognize and reward people or teams who have made significant contributions to your FinOps initiatives. Inspire others by sharing success stories with the wider organization. Then, use the insights gained from measuring success to drive continuous improvement and refine your FinOps strategies over time. By fostering a culture of recognition, collaboration, and continuous improvement, you can ensure that your FinOps initiatives deliver tangible benefits and contribute to the overall success of your business.

 

9. Embrace Continuous Improvement

For FinOps to have long-term impact, continuous improvement is a critical ingredient. Your aim should be to create an environment where feedback is welcomed, experimentation is encouraged, and innovation is celebrated. It’s about recognizing that FinOps is an ongoing journey – not a one-time project. Take the time to envision your ideal team structure and processes – where do you see your FinOps function a year from now? Five years from now? Get your thoughts down on paper and share them with your colleagues across the board, from engineering to finance. Collaboration is just as important as every other stage in the process.

Once you have alignment on your long-term goals, it’s an opportune time to consider how automation can support. Let technology do the heavy lifting on things like over-budget notifications, cloud report usage, or tagging hygiene, so you can focus on strategic initiatives instead. But remember, choosing the right tools is crucial. Consider scalability, integration, and, of course, cost – and don’t forget to regularly reassess your tooling strategy. The cloud landscape is moving quickly, and your tools need to keep pace. So, embrace continuous improvement, automate where you can, and always keep an eye on the horizon.

 

10. Lead by Example

Leadership sets the stage for the whole organization and, when it comes to FinOps, they’re the ones leading the charge. But it’s not just about them giving orders from the top – it’s about showing the way by rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.

Different FinOps roles come with different responsibilities and priorities, whether it’s keeping tabs on costs, driving innovation, or ensuring a smooth running. By understanding what makes each decision-maker tick – whether they’re the CEO, CFO, ITAM or ITFM – a FinOps team can achieve alignment quickly. For FinOps to really take off, the leadership team must believe and project the notion that FinOps isn’t just a buzzword, but a way of doing business that everyone buys into, from the top down.

 

The Future of FinOps

For an organization to see the benefits of FinOps, a checklist of tasks is just the beginning. Successful FinOps demands a strategic mindset, a commitment to ongoing improvement, and the active involvement of every team member. It requires leadership to bridge the gap between insights and implementation, ensuring that the bottom line sees tangible benefits to ignite a culture of innovation and efficiency within your organization.

Ultimately, winning the hearts and minds of all stakeholders, from IT to finance and beyond, is essential for the sustained success of your FinOps journey. So, embrace the challenge, rally your team, and unlock the full potential of FinOps in your cloud.

Want to read more about FinOps? Check out other guides in the Surveil blog.

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